It’s all very well politicians posturing in public about the positions they wish to take in the US debt reduction talks. But maybe all sides should be focusing more on what could happen if no deal is struck.

What’s the worst case? If the markets turn against the dollar because of fears that US debt is unsustainable, then the problems for the US would be enormous. Could the scenes in Greece, Ireland and Portugal as those countries grapple with impossible debt bail out deals be repeated in the US? Who would bail out the US – there is no equivalent of the Eurozone Central Bank to do it. If the US was a domestic family or a small business facing a similar debt crisis there would be no messing about – it would be a question of cut costs, increase income, or go to the wall.

It would be better for all sides to focus on this common peril rather than just re-stating their political positions. Such positioning statements may make good headlines for constituents but they prevent each party from progressing the negotiation. This requires stepping into the shoes of the other side and trying to find ways to meet their emotional needs in return for getting what you want from a deal – if you are just broadcasting your own position you are not going to be able to do that.

I wonder what would happen if as part of the negotiation meetings there was agreement to run an exercise, where the Republicans were required to argue the Democrat position, and vice versa. What a great way that would be of learning to truly appreciate the needs of the other side.